Is the Reformation Still Needed?

October 31, 1517

© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, ThD

When Martin Luther began his ministry of the priesthood and teaching (PhD) in the early 1500s, there were only two branches of Christianity: The Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy. When Luther died, there were three branches, the third one being Protestant. When Luther nailed the 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, it was an invitation to other scholars to debate indulgences. The church door was like a bulletin board for announcements, and Luther wrote the Theses in the scholarly language of the day: Latin. He was as surprised as anyone when they were taken down, translated into German, and spread throughout Germany. Now Luther was forced to defend his teaching.

What Was the Reformation?

It was the greatest revival in the history of the Church (and still ongoing). I don’t mean to be unkind, but the Roman Catholic Church had fallen into really bad teachings and practices. They were basically selling forgiveness of sins. Several weeks ago I saw on TV a documentary of Martin Luther where a current Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church admitted that the Church in Luther’s day had indeed fallen into decadence and bad doctrines. Now in our day, the Protestant Church has fallen into various heresies, as has the Roman Catholic Church and just about every other Christian church or organization. Here are some of our protestant problems:

  • We present a positive message without judgment.
  • We’ve turned the Bible into a popular psychological manual for self-improvement.
  • With the right words spoken audibly, we can manufacture our own providence. In fact, the word-faith movement thoroughly disdains the word “providence.”
  • Catholics pray to Mary, and Protestants pray to themselves.
  • Every passage in the Bible has become a “secret” to have victory, if we only . . .

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the word-faith movement, The compromised protestant megachurches proclaim a form of indulgences, which is positive confession. If you say words into the air with faith, you’ll bring riches into your life; but of course you must send the word-faith preacher his share. Robert Tilton used to require a thousand dollar vow, and if you made that vow and sent him money, he would send you a cloth to put in your billfold that would bring you money. You could reap a 100 fold harvest. Their followers are being fleeced as much as those poor peasants in Luther’s day. (If you want a copy of my book on the word-faith movement, please CLICK HERE. You can see the thorough Table of Contents when you click the link.)

 

Need for the Reformation

The Reformation was a return to the Bible and to the old gospel the fathers of the church had preached the first thousand years (or more) in the Church’s history. The Roman Catholic Church had degenerated into various false teachings and practices, not the least of which was the selling of forgiveness of sins in the form of Indulgences.

In the 1300s there was a man called Jon Wycliffe. He was an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, and seminary professor at Oxford. He was an influential dissident within the Roman Catholic priesthood during the 14th century. He had followers that went around preaching the pure Gospel who were called the Lollards. Wycliffe also translated the Bible into English from the Latin. He was the evangelical of his day, and died in 1384. About a hundred years after he died, he was declared a heretic, and his bones were dug up and ground.

After Wycliffe came Jon Hus. The Roman Catholic Church martyred him in 1415 after giving their word they would not do it if he would just appear before them to defend his views. He was a Czech priest, philosopher, Master, dean and rector at Charles University in Prague, church reformer, inspirator of Hussitism, a seminal figure in the Bohemian Reformation and a key predecessor to Protestantism. Luther claimed, 100 years later, to be a Hussite.

Enter Martin Luther and Tetzel, the latter who was selling indulgences on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church that granted a release of some temporal punishment due to sin. Martin Luther vehemently challenged indulgencies. The money collected was for the Pope to rebuild St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Here is what Tetzel would proclaim:

As soon as the gold in the casket rings,

The rescued soul to heaven springs.

Here is another version:

As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,

the soul from purgatory springs.

 

What is an indulgence? It gets complicated, but suffice it to say that it is something you do (works) that will lessen your time in purgatory, which is not heaven or hell, and not a desirable place to go. But Tetzel was selling indulgences to the poor to use for their deceased loved ones to get out of purgatory early. It was salvation by proxy after death by money. For example, in one Roman Catholic catechism one can get a full indulgence by saying the Rosary before Holy Communion, or a partial indulgence for reading the New Testament 15 minutes a day. It is a mechanical works system where one can get his ticker card punched.

You might find it interesting that just several weeks ago there was a documentary of Martin Luther and the beginning of the Reformation. It was very positive, and there was a Roman Catholic Cardinal on the program who stated that the church at that time had become corrupt and was in need of reforming. I would add that it still needs reforming, along with worldwide Anglicanism and Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Worldwide Christianity is in pitiful ruins in its beliefs and practices.

In the early 1500s there was a priest with a troubled conscience. Tomorrow, October 31st, 1517, 500 years ago, Martin Luther, who had an earned Ph.D. in biblical studies, at the age of 34, nailed up the Ninety-Five Theses on a church door in Wittenberg. He wanted to debate other church scholars regarding certain teachings and practices, especially Indulgences. Thus began the greatest revival in the history of the Church, which has lasted now for about 500 years. Other revivals have been sparked, such the ones of the Wesleys, Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, here in this country in the 1700s, and many others in the last 100 years throughout the world. And let us not forget the godly women the Lord had raised up, such as Luther’s wife, Katherine, Edwards wife, and so on.

Do We Still Need the Reformation?

The first Reformation changed the Western world—Germany, continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, and so on. The world will never be the same now that God raised up Luther to preach the free gospel with such power and fearlessness. Likewise, with many other great men, Luther’s right-hand man, Melanthon (Germany), Calvin and Beza (France), Zwingli and Bullinger (Switzerland), John Knox (Scotland, Presbyterian), and certainly not least, those in England: Cranmer, Ridley, Latimer, Bucer, etc. Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer–all clergy in the Church of England–the Roman Catholic Church martyred.

The reformers faced not only theological heresy, but also they were persecuted by the civil authorities, the same as we are today. Our whole Western culture hates (and I mean hates with a devilish fiendness) anything Christian. There is a huge spiritual warfare going on in the West in general and also in our culture in particular. The gospel is being called hate speech, sexual perversion is freedom of expression, murdering babies is a woman’s choice, and so on. Moreover, ministerial success is measured in how big your parking lot is, though there is nothing wrong with having a large church in itself, but the tendency is to compromise the gospel so you won’t lose members.

We need a whole generation of D. James Kennedys to arise and march on our modern Jerichos. Many preachers today wimp out by saying that we must not be involved in political matters! Right, so we let the culture perish.

There are two ways to destroy the gospel: by addition and by subtraction. Most of the Christian cults subtract things, like the deity of Christ, the Holy Trinity, His bodily resurrection, and so on. But during the Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church added many things, thus it was necessary to correct the errors by pointing out that each of the solas were not just necessary, but enough.

What were some of the big issues in the Reformation that are still needed today? I’ve written some articles in this blog about the “ONLYs”, the solas. The ONLYs emphasize the sufficiency of what they present, not just the necessity.

  • The Bible is not only necessary, but it is also enough (only).
  • The grace of God is necessary for us to come to Christ, but it also enough (only).
  • We are saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, so that faith is not only necessary for our salvation, it is also enough (only).
  • Christ is not only necessary for our salvation, but He is enough. Only He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). We don’t add Mary to Him.
  • God’s glory alone must receive the emphasis, not us also.

The Bible is all the revelation we need, not the additions of the Roman Catholic Church in their traditions. The Bible is enough. The grace of God is all we need to gain salvation, not the merits of Mary and others. His grace is sufficient. We are saved through faith and not by our merits, which in turn means faith is enough. The person of Christ is the only mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), the only way to the Father (John 14:6). This further means that His once for all death was and is enough. We don’t need the sacrifices of Mary or others. Finally, our salvation is to God’s glory alone because only He has saved us, lest anyone should boast in his own merits.

But there has been tremendous progress made in the last few decades, or at least in my lifetime. (I’m now 72.) Roman Catholics and Protestants do not want to kill one another. Within my lifetime, even in the past several decades, evangelicals and Catholics have come together to a great extent. In Amarillo, the local Roman Catholic bishop and I marched together at the front of the line each year for pro-life. Other ministers were there incognito, out of uniform, so the media did not know who they were. I’ve worked with Roman Catholics in various pro-life endeavors, side by side, praying wonderful prayers while for our sake leaving out the Hail Mary.

I read Pope Benedict’s XVI excellent work titled Jesus.

I sure I’m not a prophet, but I’ve been saying for several decades that Christians all over the world must come together if we’re to survive the onslaught of Islam, Atheism, Liberalism, hostile politicians, etc. Satan is making an all-out push against us. But does that mean I’m going to Rome any time soon? There ain’t no way, for there are still substantive areas of disagreement: transubstantiation, purgatory, prayers to humans, works to gain heaven, papal infallibility, Mary as co-redeemer and co-mediator, Son of God as only one mediator out of many. Yet they hold the same three creeds we do, Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian. My plea is not for conversion to that system, but for tolerance on both sides, but without compromising the solas.

So, is the Reformation still needed? I would say Yes, but it is not just around the solas. Without giving up the progress we’ve made in 500 years as of today, we must change the culture by preaching the gospel, changing our culture as Luther and others did by engaging the culture. We must proclaim the crown rights of King Jesus, because

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying,
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
                                       baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
                                           20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matt. 28:18-20 NKJ)

AMEN.

 

Calm Word about the Election

© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 4 November 2016

Who will win the election? No one knows, especially me. Will the person be good for the country? You already know whom I think will be better, but does that mean he will turn our hearts back to righteousness? Not likely. The gospel in the Church is God’s hope for America, not some political pundit. Politicians should make it safe and easy to proclaim the gospel, not to be the Church. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34 NKJ). Righteousness is the mission of the Church. I don’t look to any politician at any time for the ultimate cure: that worship belongs only to One Man and the ONLY Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), Jesus Christ. Indeed, if the Apostle Paul were elected as President next Tuesday, we would still have an ungodly nation. It is going to take a major revival and at least one generation (most likely two to three generations) to right so many injustices, such as:

  • Idolatry
  • Vile language
  • Dedicating time to self and not to the Lord on His Day
  • Disobedience to godly authority (parents, government, military)
  • Murder
  • Porn
  • Abortion, infanticide, euthanasia
  • Worship of self (narcissism)
  • Materialists
  • Secularism
  • Sexual sins of all kinds that are unbelievable in invention and in intensity
  • LGBTQ
  • Everybody steals from everyone
  • Everyone lies to everyone
  • The media and politicians in general make a living from bearing false witness
  • Coveting
  • Violence throughout the nation
  • Extreme prejudice, especially against Christians
  • Wholesale violations of the Ten Commandments

I’m sure I’ve left out many sins. Consider my book (and eBook) NOT Ten Commandments on Amazon for practical insights into each of these areas (pdf on my site). In short, we need a Nineveh type revival with a disobedient Jonah to preach. But he was like many of us: “Don’t give our ‘Ninevites’ conversion and grace, O Lord, kill them all!”

I can almost predict what will happen to us with this vote: Something we never thought about. But I don’t know; neither do you.

One thing for sure in in the long run, and for the good of the Church corporate throughout the world, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NKJ). We tend to take this to mean individual Christians will be blessed, and that is true, but in context it is primarily corporate. Whatever happens throughout the world, I self-consciously ask myself, “What are you doing, Lord, but whatever it is, you do so for the benefit of Your people.” Every event in every part of the world has been designed by my gracious Lord with you and me in mind, “who loved me and gave Himself for me.” The reason He is doing this, as Max Lucado has said, is because HE CHOSE THE NAILS. It is through His suffering that His kingdom grows, and through our suffering that we grow. Suffering is not abnormal but normal, but we in the USA have had several centuries of reprieve. Adventure awaits us! So whatever happens in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia, China, USA, etc, He has designed to promote His kingdom, His Church, and to grow us in grace. All the world sees is the outward wars, the political intrigue and lies, but Jesus sees His Church.

WE see in the last 100 years or more, King Jesus has been pouring His Holy Spirit more to the East and less in the West. Modern church historians, such as Philip Jenkins and Mark A. Noll, tell us that 100 years ago 7 of every 10 Christians were in Europe, UK, USA, Canada—in other words—white Christians. Now it has reversed: 7 of every 10 Christians are in other countries (China, India, Africa, S. Korea, Russia, Middle East, Brazil, the Southern Cone (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay)), etc. It appears that the Lord is on the move in the East but turning from the West, but only He knows for sure.

We tend to forget or ignore the fact that the Church, over the centuries, has grown most in grace and in numbers through persecution. If I were the Lord Jesus, I would give us what we deserve—persecution—and thereby separate the sheep from the goats by such persecution. BUT you are safe because I’m not Him, and He is infinitely more gracious than I could ever be. Anyway, as we used to say in Vietnam, I’m a short timer (now 71). I’ll continue to do what I can to kick Satan’s butt, and then by His grace, I’ll be going home!

I have prayed for the USA, sometimes with tears. I have written to y’all, I have voted. Now it is time for me to relax in His gracious providence.

“Thou doest all things well, O my sovereign Lord. Yours is to dispose; mine is to repose.” AMEN. Ω.

Who Is Holy Enough to be President?

(© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., November 1, 2016)

Adam would not have qualified because he did not stand up to Satan when he tempted his wife, Eve, to eat of the fruit. He effectively threw his wife under the bus; who would want a coward for president?

Noah would not qualify because he was guilty of getting drunk at the worst possible time and then engaging in incest with his daughters, who gave birth to his children. If  Weiner may be ousted for sexting a minor, how much worse was Noah who got his daughters pregnant!

Abraham lied about his wife being his sister, and then he did not believe God’s promise about having the promised seed through Sarah. Impatient, he impregnated his wife’s assistant, Hagar, who in turn had Ishmael. It was only later that Abraham had the true promised seed, Isaac, with Sarah. Who would want a liar, a double-minded man,  and fornicator for president?

Moses could not be president because he murdered an Egyptian, which was also profiling. Who is going to hold him accountable for these crimes? Could he really be trusted to lead a nation? Moreover, he ran off after killing the Egyptian and raised sheep for 40 years. How would having his own business qualify him for politics, and especially living in solitude for all those years? Would he be able to speak eloquently in public? He did not think so.

Samson would be out because he could not keep his hands off women, often going to bed with them. How could a womanizer do God’s will for a nation? Maybe Bill Clinton has followed his example.

Saul was chosen by the people to be king, but they liked him because he was nice looking and larger by a head than most men. They did not look on the heart, for if they had, they would have noticed that he was an ego-maniac. God killed him and installed David as king.

But how did David qualify for that high office as leader of Israel? After being confirmed as King, he committed two very heinous sins. First, he numbered Israel to see how many soldiers he had, putting his confidence in his military might rather than in his covenant LORD (1 Chron. 21). Second, he committed adultery with Bathsheba, got her pregnant, and then murdered her Husband, Uriah the Hittite. Then he took Bathsheba as his wife.

Israel split into two nations: the northern ten tribes, called Israel, and the southern two tribes called Judah. There was not one good king in the north and only a few in Judah, but most had some problem.

There was a king of Palestine appointed by the Caesar of Rome, and that was Herod the Great who murdered relatives, wives, sons, and anyone who got in his way. He told more lies than the Caesars, which is saying something, since they often told lies to cover their butts. Sound familiar? He tried to murder baby Jesus by having all the babies two years of age and under murdered, but even then he only killed about 18 babies. That is not nearly as many as Hitlery and others have murdered with abortion, which is 55 million and counting since abortion became legal in January 1973.

There were no significant kings of the northern ten tribes of Israel in New Testament times because Israel was under foreign rule—Rome. But the High Priest, who was supposed to be appointed for life, was also supposed to be male and of the house of Aaron. There were two High Priests in the Lord’s day: Annas and Caiaphas, neither one of the house of Aaron. The reason there were two High Priests was corruption. Annas and Caiaphas bought their way into the most political position of Palestine: High Priest. When Annas did not please the Roman authorities, they put him out, but Annas pulled some strings to get his son-in-law, Caiaphas, installed. It was political conspiracy. Sound familiar?

Peter was not qualified because he was so fickle: proclaiming Jesus one minute and denying Him three times the next minute. Also, he had permanent hoof in mouth disease, always saying something off the cuff that got him in trouble. Remind you of someone?

No way Paul could serve since he had arrested many Christians and murdered some. Moreover, he was very confrontational.

John Adams, second president of the USA, had been exposed to the Puritans as he grew up, but their Calvinism did not stay with him. He wrote Thomas Jefferson and said something like: I could wish you to live long enough to become a Calvinist,” to which Jefferson responded: “Dear sir, you wish for me immortality.” Both seemed to be more deist than Christian, and in those days who wanted practical atheists in the high office?

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the USA, was a deist who sired children by his slave women.

Benjamin Franklin was a womanizer, and was not a Christian; rather, he was polytheistic.

We could continue, but you get the point—there are no perfect people for the high office of president. Indeed, the Clintons and Obamas have been some of the worst presidents in our history, and should never have been elected.

How qualified was Jesus to be King? According to the standards of that time, He was not unqualified. He had never served in any office before. His education was limited to His step-father and mother. The only job He had learned to do was carpentry. He was intolerant to those who did not like them, often calling them names such as liars, hypocrites, disciples of hell, fools, blind guides, whited sepulchers, serpents, brood of vipers, murderers, those who killed the prophets, and so on. He needed to learn tolerance if He were to succeed in politics! He had never traveled out of His country, and He had never been published. Those who followed Him were ignorant fishermen, tax collectors, and those not well known in society. And He was not acceptable in high society.  He had no military experience so how could He lead in fighting wars? Finally, He had been unemployed the last three years of His life, depending on others for food, and sometimes slept in the open. Such an independent minded person who did not fit in with professional politicians would never do.

Moreover, He had never been married, and that would mean He was not well adjusted, or worse, He may be a womanizer. Suspicion is raised when we know that women often followed Him in His travels. Sometimes he ate with prostitutes.

CONCLUSION:

So, to those Christians who think we are voting for the lesser of two evils if we vote for Trump, who would be righteous enough for you? Is it not prudent to have the lesser evil person rather than greater evil? In every election since the USA began, from municipal, county, state, and to federal, we have always voted for the lesser of two evils because no one is perfect! If we don’t vote for the lesser evil, then we will elect one of the evilest families in USA history. AMEN.Ω.

Jesus Is Lord in Everything but Voting—Right?

© The Very Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9-11 NKJ)

The three expressions—in heaven, on earth, and under the earth—refer to angelic beings and perhaps those who have passed into the presence of the Lamb, to all those on earth at any point in time, and those demonic beings under the earth. It is comprehensive.

We see from these verses that not only is Jesus the medium of worship but also the object of worship. The world hates the name “Jesus” as seen in making fun of it, saying “O Jesus Christ” and not “O Buddha” or something like that. One can pray in public in any name but Jesus; one can pray to “God Almighty,” to Allah, but just don’t pray in Jesus’ name. The reason should be obvious—Jesus is the supreme enemy, which is why Christians, who wear His name, are hated so much.

It seems that at every turn we Christians are being marginalized in our USA culture. Liberals hate us, the sexually immoral despise us with every vile force they can muster and want to murder us, and the culture is being educated in public, godless, government schools not to listen to us, that Christianity is an outdated religion that has a very fallible book full of mistakes and errors. Organizations like the ACLU want us to keep Christ in our private churches, and they want “Caesar” to be lord in the culture. They say keep Jesus out of politics and the public arena, for that belongs to the “neutral” government. The upcoming vote for the president of the USA is to some extent a battle over who is Lord in our society, Satan, or the Messiah who is Jesus the Lord. But we cannot say that the RNC represents all  godly principles; rather, they are, at the moment, just less evil, but should we not want lesser evil than more evil?

But how should Christians engage in the spiritual warfare that is around us every day? Let us look at 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 in the Old Testament.

13 When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, THEN I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

This applied to the Old Testament people of God, but we are the new Israel of God (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-22) so it applies to us also. The passage says the covenant people of God who are called by His name (now “Christians”) are to do several things:

  • Humble themselves before God, which means to confess their sins
  • Pray and seek Him
  • And what is often overlooked: “turn from their wicked ways
  • “THEN” He will (notice the order) “forgive their sin, and heal their land”. Forgiveness is the basis for other blessings, and in turn forgiveness is conditioned on turning from our sins, or repentance (We Christians are eaten up with sins; click here to get my book on the Ten Commandments or go to Amazon and enter Curtis Crenshaw, NOT Ten Suggestions.)

Then in 2 Chronicles 20, the enemies of King Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, were coming against him, and they were too many and too powerful to fight. Here is what Jehoshaphat did:

  • He feared and set himself to seek the Lord (v. 3)
  • He invoked the covenant promises (“are not you our God”, v. 7)
  • “If disaster comes upon us . . . we will stand before this temple and in Your presence, and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save” (v. 9)
  • Here is what they prayed: “We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon you” (v. 12)

So, what did Judah do in the face of overwhelming odds? They prayed and worshiped, and they were granted victory. We are not Judah, but we are in covenant with God through the blood of Jesus, and we enter His presence to worship each Lord’s day. It is there, in His holy presence in worship, that we do battle with our enemies. Of course, we also use other human means, such as voting in this election. If the outcome is not what we think is best, we must submit to Him, for His plan will go forward. But WE MUST BE FAITHFUL where we are whatever the outcome. We cannot see the future, but Jesus has determined the future; thus, we must be faithful in whatever He has decided for us, whoever wins the election. There is only one Man who is the answer to all our sins and problems, and that is the One who became human in space and time, who became a slave, ill-treated, who was crucified, died a criminal’s death, resurrected, who in turn knows all the trials we go through because He went through them to conquer for us: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15 ESV).

But in the New Testament we see something similar as 2 Chronicles 20:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. (2 Cor. 10:3-6 ESV)

This passage commands us to use our divine weapons, not physical ones, to destroy “strongholds” of Satan. We do so by proclaiming the gospel, by making known the Triune God and the Incarnation of the Son of God, and we can in turn do that by disseminating the word in books, tracts, sermons, voting, praying, helping girls to overcome abortion, etc.

Now the One who was completely obedient must be completely obeyed, for He is LORD! We can see how quickly things can change with the new evidence from the FBI regarding the new found emails. Who knows how that will turn out? If providence goes as usual (who knows!), it may turn out completely different from what anyone thinks! But we know who is in charge; thus, let us do our meager part in repenting,  praying, voting, and trusting in

“Him who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. AMEN.” Ω. (1 Tim. 6:15-16 NKJ)

Error of Unbelief and Not Voting

(© The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., October 26, 2016)

Gospel light is like a rheostat: turn it down, and darkness floods a room; turn it up, and light floods the room. In either case, the rheostat controls light and thus darkness. Likewise, the gospel will dispel the darkness or it will allow the darkness to come in. The Church at large controls the rheostat. By definition, light controls darkness, not darkness the light.

This past week I heard the pastor of a large evangelical congregation in Dallas say on his radio program: “We are not going to prevent America’s ultimate collapse, but we can delay it. We can buy time so that we can preach the gospel. . . .” The context was that we should vote, and that for the less wicked person: Trump. After listening to several of the pastor’s sermons on the Internet, here is what he meant: The Church will lose in the spiritual battle in the USA and the world; Satan will win, but we should at least delay the inevitable destruction by voting for Trump.

If I believed the Church would lose, I would have quit the ministry years ago. Unbelief in overcoming the devil and his fallen angels is one reason evangelicals do not vote, thinking what is the use since this is Satan’s world, and he allegedly cannot be defeated except by muscle (Jesus beats him up at the end). But if all evangelicals did vote, we could control the country. It is primarily our fault that the USA is falling apart morally. Most denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, have fallen prey to liberalism; but those who have remained true to Holy Scriptures, have otherwise generally fallen prey to end time hysteria with its inherent pessimism and defeat of Christ’s Church. This end time fear has paralyzed us. Allegedly, the only way we can win the spiritual battle is to be delivered from this world in a secret second coming called the rapture. Then seven years later, when the Church is once again defeated, there will be the public Second Coming, the real Second Coming that the Creeds speak about.

Now we all believe in the Second Coming, for that is part of the ancient Creeds and is very clear in the Gospels; that is not the issue I’m raising. The issue is whether the Church is impotent and can only retreat, and whether the gospel is impotent. The issue is that many evangelicals use the rapture to do nothing. This defeatism reflects directly on the enthroned Son of God, and whether He can, by His Holy Spirit, change cultures and people. But the problem with many evangelicals is that we think Satan and his “gospel” of darkness is more powerful than Jesus and the true gospel. It is Jesus who is enthroned; not Satan. (We’ll comment on Rev. 2:13 next time.)

Consider this logic. If we Christians obey the Triune God’s commandments, preach His gospel, and live accordingly, we lose. But if the ungodly disobey God’s commandments, preach abortion, LGBT, steal through excessive taxation and printing money with no backing, lie and murder to get their way, they win. But how in the world can pursuing darkness win and pursuing the light lose?

Recall what happened to the children of Israel when they sent the twelve spies into the land and ten came back with a bad report. Essentially, the ten spies were guilty of unbelief, and their bad report lead Israel to regret that they had left Egypt. The two spies, however, responded with belief:

30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. 33 There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight” (Numbers 13:30-33).

The ten spies contrasted themselves with their enemies, concluding they could not defeat them; but Caleb and Joshua contrasted their enemies with the LORD God, who had given them victory over all their enemies up to this point, not the least was the parting of the Red Sea. The LORD God made Israel wander in the wilderness 40 years because of their unbelief manifested in their fear. Will King Jesus make Christians in the USA endure much persecution for their unbelief in facing the enemies of Jesus? Only God knows.

This is what we are facing with most of evangelicalism: unbelief in the face of godless enemies. We contrast ourselves with those in power and conclude it is hopeless, denying both the power of the Gospel and the power of the risen Christ who reigns over all the world by His resurrection and Ascension, where He is seated in victory at the right hand of the Majesty on High (Hebrews 1:3; 8:1). But we must contrast our enemies with the Lord God, the Lamb of God, who sovereignly rules.

When the Lord Jesus gave the great commission, do we think He was giving commands that could never be carried out, that He was just helping the twelve be positive amid certain defeat?

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice Jesus said that He had ALL AUTHORITY, but where?—“in heaven and on earth.” The words “heaven” and “earth” mean the whole universe, using a device called a merism, opposites to mean totality. Considering His having “all authority,” He commanded a few followers to “make disciples of all the nations,” by two means: baptizing in the name of the Holy Trinity, which assumes the gospel, and teaching new disciples all that Christ had taught the twelve. To give them faith that His command to subdue the word by the gospel was not an empty command, He proclaims He will be with them to the end of the age. And He is with them, not just as a comfort in their trials, but to give them victory, for that is clearly the context!

In two thousand years, Christianity has grown from a handful to the largest religion of the world, about 2.5 billion, and in every country in the world. Islam cannot boast of being in every nation nor of so many, being about 1.8 billion.

Thus, we must bring to bear His righteousness in every area of life, which means voting. AMEN.

(Next time we shall look at who is Lord of the world, Satan or Jesus, and how that affects voting? Read the blog just before this one to see an answer to voting for the lesser of two evils.)

 

Heresy of Perfectionism and Voting

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 20 October 2016

The heresy of perfectionism is an old one in the history of the Church. In one form, it is thinking that we can obtain absolute moral perfection in this life by the power of our wills (Pelagianism). In another form, it is demanding that others conform to our level of conformity to God’s word, or we will excommunicate them from our presence.

Christians have a type of perfectionism in politics today. Every Christian is flawed, but in our hypocrisy we want others who are flawed in the same way we are before we will associate with them.  But just think of what the Lord had to work with: hoof in mouth disease Peter, doubting Thomas, tax collecting Matthew, Christian-murdering Paul, and so on. If the Lord Jesus had refused to use them because they were not perfect, we would have no Church today.

Likewise, some Christians are so self-righteous that they will not vote for a professing Christian who is flawed, like Donald Trump. If they can’t have one who conforms to their view of righteousness, then they will not vote at all. Actually, that is not quite true, for a No vote for Trump is a Yes vote for Hillary Clinton. They forget that the Son of God was incarnated to save sinners, to promote His kingdom with good-for-nothing Christians, not that I’m saying Trump is a Christian, but James Dobson says he became one recently (click here). He may not be, but God is so sovereign He even used wicked Pharaoh to accomplish His purposes.

The Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth.” (Rom. 9:17 NKJ)

The Triune God has been striking straight blows with crooked sticks like Pharaoh since the world began. Consider some of the arguments some Christians give for not voting for Trump:

  • “Trump made some disparaging remarks about women that was played on some media just recently.” We don’t justify that; indeed, we say it was awful. BUT Trump apologized for it so why aren’t you forgiving him? Is that an unpardonable sin? What happened to forgiving 70 x 70?
  • “It is a matter of the lesser of two evils.” Duhh, then why not opt for the lesser evil? Or, do you want more evil? In fact, in every election to any office we’re always choosing the lesser of two evils because no one is perfect.
  • “But someone who professes to be a Christian should not act that way.” Granted, but does that mean that we put a more wicked person into office? Moreover, consider the larger picture. Trump has gathered some good Christians for his administration, such as Pence as Vice President, who professes faith in Jesus. Trump has good appointments to the Supreme Court who will rule according to original intent of the Constitution, who will not engage in making laws, who will protect our Second Amendment rights, Trey Gowdy as the no compromising Attorney General, who, in contrast to Obama’s lying, cheating Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, will actually promote justice and not personal plans. But Hillary will appoint those who will continue abortion, the murder of babies, the destruction of the family with more LGBT rulings, will effectively take away our Second Amendment rights of self-protection, will tax and spend, AND continue persecution of Christians in the USA and worldwide. Indeed, Hillary has said that she will continue Obama’s agenda. What in the world is the matter with us that we would rather have the devil than one who is flawed? Recall what St. Paul said about his own life:

For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. (Rom. 7:15-16 NKJ)

Yet, Jesus still used Paul!

Or, how about this objection:

  • “Christians can vote for Trump, but they can’t do it in the name of Christianity.” How silly; then whose name do they invoke if not the Triune God’s name? Is there some neutral, moral territory in the world? I think not, for Jesus is King of kings and everything is His, right now. Voting for Trump is morally a good choice.

Some Christians seemed to be saying that if they cannot get an uncompromising Christian in office, then they will help to put in office a Triune God hating anti-christ, who will murder babies, destroy the families, attack Christians and the Church. What is wrong with us?

Yes, indeed, it is a matter of the lesser of two evils, and I will honor Christ by voting for lesser Trump.

AMEN. Ω

Response to my last article: “Loving Darkness”

The man who responds is a dear friend and brother  from “down under”.

 

Thanks Curtis for this latest article. We have the same cursed influence spreading over here. The Victorian government has mandated that a Safe Schools Program must be taught in all government schools by 2017-18, in order to deal with bullying at school. However the chief designer of this program, Roz Ward, a self pronounced Marxist academic at Melb[ourne] Uni[versity] has publicly stated that this program has nothing to do with bullying, but everything to do with changing society so that the homosexual minority becomes normative. Then another Melb[ourne] Uni[versity] academic wants to see pre-schoolkids being taught the transgender rubbish. Family Voice sent a petition of 14000 signatures to the Commonwealth Government urging them to stop funding this Safe Schools program; the government reviewed the program and has called for some radical changes to it promising to cease funding a little later. [Right, I believe that.]

With a national election for both the lower and upper houses of federal parliament due July 2, [2016], the danger is that Labor may win, & if so, the moral filth out of Labor’s sewers will stink all the more.  We pray the coalition (Liberal & National Party coalition) will be returned to power. There is a significant number of evangelicals in the government & some strong conservatives, who though not Christians, are as forthright for the right things as any Christians are.

[Pray for Australia. Pray for the USA. Let the Church at large repent and confess Jesus as Lord.]